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State of Michigan
State flag of Michigan State seal of Michigan
(Flag of Michigan) (Seal of Michigan)
State nickname: The Wolverine State, The Great Lakes State
Map of the U.S. with Michigan highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Lansing
Largest city Detroit
Governor Jennifer Granholm (D)
Senators Carl Levin (D)

Debbie Stabenow (D)

Official language(s) English de-facto
Area 96,889 mi² / 250,941 km² (11th)
 - Land 56,855 mi² / 147,255 km²
 - Water 40,034 mi² / 103,687 km² (41.3%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 9,938,444 (8th)
 - Density 174.95 per mi² / 67.55 /km² (15th)
Admission into Union
 - Date January 26, 1837
 - Order 26th
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
(Some Upper Peninsula counties bordering Wisconsin are Central time.)
Latitude 41°41'N to 47°30'N
Longitude 82°26'W to 90°31'W
Width 239 miles / 385 km
Length 491 miles / 790 km
 - Highest point 1,978 ft. / 603 m
 - Mean 902 ft. / 275 m
 - Lowest point 571 ft / 174 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-MI
Web site www.michigan.gov

Michigan is a state in the United States. The name is derived from Lake Michigan, which in turn is believed to come from the Chippewa Indian word meicigama, meaning "great water." Bounded by four of the Great Lakes, Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the continental United States, the longest total shoreline after Alaska (including island shorelines [1]), and more recreational boats than any other state in the union.



Michigan was home to various Native American tribes for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. When the first European explorers arrived, the most populous and influential tribes were the linguistically and ethnically related Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi. Within Michigan, the Chippewa were the most populous, estimated at between 25,000 and 35,000, and were predominant in the western Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin, though they were also present in other areas of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan. The Ottawa primarily inhabited the area around the Straits of Mackinac and areas of Northern Michigan, while the Potawatomi resided primarily in southwest Michigan. The three tribes co-existed peacefully and formed a loose confederation known as the Council of Three Fires. Other tribes with a presence in Michigan were the Mascouten, Miami, and Wyandot (or Huron).

Michigan was explored and settled by French voyageurs in the 17th century. The first Europeans to reach what later became Michigan were Étienne Brûlé's group in 1622. The first European settlement was made in 1668 by Father Jacques Marquette, a Jesuit missionary who established a mission at Sault Ste. Marie. In 1679, Robert Cavelier Sieur de la Salle directed the construction of the Griffin--the first European sailing vessel on the upper Great Lakes. That same year, La Salle built Fort Miami at present-day St. Joseph.

In 1701, French explorer and army officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Detroit on the straits between Lakes St. Clair and Erie. Cadillac had convinced King Louis XIV's chief minister, Louis Phélypeaux, comte de Pontchartrain, that a permanent community at present-day Detroit would strengthen French control over the upper Great Lakes and repel British advances. The one hundred soldiers and workers that accompanied Cadillac built a 200-square-foot palisade and named it Fort Pontchartrain. Cadillac's wife, Marie Thérèse, soon moved to Detroit, becoming one of the first white women to settle in the Michigan wilderness. The town quickly became a major fur-trading and shipping post. At the same time, the French strengthened Fort Michilimackinac at the Straits of Mackinac in order to better control their lucrative fur-trading empire. By the mid-eighteenth century, the French had also occupied forts at present-day Niles and Sault Ste. Marie. Most of the rest of the region remained unsettled by whites, however.

By 1760, the French would lose their North American empire with their defeat by the British in the French and Indian War (1754–1763). Michigan passed to Great Britain in 1763 and then to the new United States two decades later. The population grew slowly until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, which brought large numbers of settlers.

By the 1830s, Michigan had some 80,000 residents, more than enough to apply for statehood. A state government was formed in 1835, although Congressional recognition of the state languished due to a boundary dispute with Ohio, with both sides claiming a 468 square mile (1,210 km²) strip of land that included the important port city of Toledo on Lake Erie and an area to the west then known as the "Great Black Swamp." The dispute eventually culminated into what would be known as the Toledo War when Michigan and Ohio militia maneuvered in the area. Ultimately, Congress awarded the "Toledo Strip" to Ohio, and Michigan, having received the western part of the Upper Peninsula as a concession, formally entered the Union on January 26, 1837.

Thought to be useless at the time of its addition to Michigan, it was soon discovered that the Upper Peninsula was a rich and important source of lumber, iron, and copper, which would become the state's most sought-after natural resources.

Michigan's economy underwent a massive shift at the turn of the 20th century. The birth of the automotive industry, with Henry Ford's first plant in the Highland Park suburb of Detroit, marked the beginning of a new era in personal transportation. It was a development that not only transformed Detroit and Michigan, but permanently altered the socio-economic climate of the United States and much of the world, for that matter.

Grand Rapids, the second-largest city in Michigan, is also a center of automotive manufacturing. Since 1838, the city has also been noted for its thriving furniture industry.

Since World War II, Detroit's industrial base has eroded as auto companies abandoned some of the area's industrial parks in favor of less expensive labor found overseas and in southern U.S. states. Still, with 10 million residents, Michigan remains a large and influential state and ranks 8th in population among the 50 states.

Michigan history timeline

Early European history

U.S. territorial history

  • 1805 Michigan Territory was created, with Detroit designated as the seat of government. William Hull appointed as governor. Detroit was destroyed by fire.
  • 1813 Lewis Cass became Territorial Governor.
  • 1817 The University of Michigan is established in Detroit, the first public university in the state.
  • 1819 In the Treaty of Saginaw, the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi ceded more than six million acres, or 24,000 km² in the central portion of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan to the United States.
  • 1821 With the Treaty of Chicago, the Ojibwe, Ottawa, and Potawatomi ceded all the lands south of the Grand River to the United States.
  • 1823 Congress transferred legislative powers previously exercised by the Territorial Governor and Judges to a nine-member Legislative Council, appointed by the U.S. President who selected them from eighteen persons chosen by the people. The Council was expanded to thirteen members in 1825 and made an elected body in 1827.
  • 1828 Territorial Capitol built in Detroit at a cost of $24,500.
  • 1835 First Constitutional Convention. Stevens T. Mason inaugurated as the first Governor. A minor conflict with Ohio over the city of Toledo, Ohio, known as the Toledo War, contributed to delaying Michigan's statehood. As a resolution, Ohio received Toledo and the Toledo Strip but Michigan gained the western two-thirds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
  • 1837 Admitted as a free state into the union (the 26th state), it was admitted a few months after the slave state of Arkansas.

U.S. state history

Law and Government

  • Referendum and Voter Initiative: Michigan's constitution provides for voter initiative and referendum (Article II, § 9 [[2]]), defined as "the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution."

Michigan counties and townships are statutory units of government, meaning that they have only those powers expressly provided or fairly implied by state law. Cities and villages are vested with home rule powers, meaning that they can do almost anything not prohibited by law.

There are two types of townships in Michigan: general law and charter. Charter township status was created by the state legislature in 1947 and grants additional powers and stream-lined administration in order to provide greater protection against annexation by a city. As of April 2001, there were 127 charter townships in Michigan.

Like other northern states, the Republican Party dominated Michigan until the Great Depression. In 1912, Michigan was one of the few states to support progressive third party candidate Teddy Roosevelt for president. In recent years, the state's strong industrial and union heritage has made the state lean Democratic, at least in national elections. Michigan has supported Democrats in the last four presidential elections. In 2004, John Kerry narrowly defeated George Bush, winning Michigan's 17 electoral votes by a margin of 3 percentage points with 51.2% of the vote. Republicans' greatest strength is in the western, northern, and rural parts of the state, especially in the Grand Rapids area. Democrats are strongest in the east, especially in metropolitan Detroit.

See: List of Michigan Governors, List of United States Senators from Michigan, List of United States Representatives from Michigan


See: List of Michigan counties   Islands of Michigan   List of Michigan rivers

Michigan encompasses 96,810 square miles (250,630 square kilometers), making it the largest state east of the Mississippi River if territorial water is included. Georgia and Florida each have a slightly larger land area, however.

Michigan borders Indiana and Ohio to the south, and Wisconsin to the southwest of the Upper Peninsula. Michigan also borders Minnesota, Illinois, the Canadian province of Ontario, and the Canadian First Nation (Indian) reserve of Walpole Island, but only on water boundaries in the Great Lakes system. The highest point is Mount Arvon in the Upper Peninsula at 1,979 feet (603 m). The highest point in the Lower Peninsula is not definitely established but is either Briar Hill at 1,705 feet (520 meters), or one of several points closely nearby.

Michigan consists of two peninsulas:

The Lower Peninsula is shaped like a mitten and is 277 miles (446 km) long from north to south and 195 miles (314 km)from east to west. The heavily forested Upper Peninsula (often called simply "The U.P.") is as large as Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island combined, but has less than 330,000 inhabitants, who are sometimes called "Yoopers" (from "U.P.'ers") and whose speech has been heavily influenced by the large number of Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants who settled the area during the mining boom of the late 1800's.

Michigan map depicting territorial waters
Michigan map depicting territorial waters

See also Highway map of Michigan

These two sections are connected only by the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge—the third longest suspension bridge in the world. The two peninsulas are surrounded by an extensive Great Lakes shoreline. Other than Alaska, Michigan has the longest shoreline of any state—2,242 miles (3,607 km). An additional 879 miles (1415 km) can be added if islands are included. This equals the length of the Atlantic Coast, from Maine to Florida. The Great Lakes which touch the two peninsulas of Michigan are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. No point in Michigan is more than 6 miles (10 km) from an inland lake or more than 85 miles (137 km) from one of the Great Lakes, and the state has more than 11,000 inland lakes and more than 36,000 miles (58,000 km) of rivers and streams.

Detroit, Michigan is the only major city in the contiguous United States that is actually due north of Canada.

National parks

See also Protected areas of Michigan, List of Michigan state parks


Michigan is primarily known as the birthplace of the automobile industry. However, it is also home to a thriving tourist industry, with destinations such as Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Saugatuck and the entire Upper Peninsula drawing vacationers, hunters and nature enthusiasts from across the United States and Canada. Although it has an urban image to non-visitors, Michigan is actually 50 percent forest, much of it quite remote. Both the forests and thousands of miles of beaches are heavy draws. Tourists also flock to many of the museums, particularly those in the Detroit area.

Hunting is a major component of Michigan's economy. Michigan ranks 1st in the nation in licensed hunters (over one million) who contribute $2 billion annually to its economy. Over three-quaters of a million hunters particpate in White-tailed deer season alone. Some K-12 school districts in rural areas of Michigan go so far as to cancel school on the opening day of rifle season, due to safety and attendance concerns.

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources manages the largest dedicated state forest system in the nation. The Forest products industry and recreational users contribute $12 billion and 200,000 associated jobs annually to its economy. Michigan has more than 90 native species of trees, more than all of Europe combined.

See also: List of companies based in Michigan


Historical populations

1800 3,757
1810 4,762
1820 7,452
1830 28,004
1840 212,267
1850 397,654
1860 749,113
1870 1,184,059
1880 1,636,937
1890 2,093,890
1900 2,420,982
1910 2,810,173
1920 3,668,412
1930 4,842,325
1940 5,256,106
1950 6,371,766
1960 7,823,194
1970 8,875,083
1980 9,262,078
1990 9,295,297
2000 9,938,444

Michigan's total population as of 2004 was 10,112,620 (U.S. Census Bureau estimate). The state had a foreign-born population of 594,700 (5.9% of the state population).

The state's population increased by 817,000 between 1990 and 2004, an 8.8% growth

Race The racial makeup of Michigan, according to the 2000 Census:

The five largest reported ancestries in Michigan are: German (20.4%), African American (14.2%), Irish (10.7%), English (9.9%), Polish (8.6%). 3.3% of the population is of Hispanic origin, a category that may include members of any race.

Americans of German ancestry are present throughout most of Michigan. Nordic (especially Finnish), British, and French ancestry have a notable presence in the Upper Peninsula. Western Michigan is well-known for the Dutch heritage of many residents (the highest concentration of any state), especially in the Grand Rapids-Holland area. Metro Detroit has many residents of Polish, Irish, and Arab ancestry, and African Americans are a majority in the city of Detroit.


The religious affiliations of the people of Michigan are:

Michigan has a higher percentage of Muslims (in the Detroit area) and a higher percentage of Reformed Christians (in Grand Rapids and the western part of the state) than any other American state.

Important cities

Detroit's downtown viewed from the Detroit River
Detroit's downtown viewed from the Detroit River

See: List of cities, villages, and townships in Michigan

The largest cities in Michigan are (according to the 2000 census):

Other important cities include:

20 wealthiest places in Michigan

As ranked by per capita income, as of the U.S. census2 of 2000:

  1. Barton Hills, $110,683
  2. Bloomfield Hills, $104,920
  3. Lake Angelus, $83,792
  4. Bingham Farms, $74,588
  5. Franklin, $71,033
  6. Grosse Pointe Shores, $69,639
  7. Orchard Lake Village, $67,881
  8. Michiana, $63,558
  9. Bloomfield Township, $62,716
  10. Birmingham, $59,314
  11. Grosse Pointe Farms, $54,846
  12. Grosse Pointe, $53,942
  13. Grand Beach, $51,788
  14. Sylvan Lake, $48,744
  15. Huntington Woods, $45,264
  16. South Gull Lake, $45,175
  17. West Bloomfield Township, $44,885
  18. Northville, $43,454
  19. Beverly Hills, $43,452
  20. Grosse Ile, $42,150

Of these 20 locations, half are located in Oakland County, just north of Detroit. Only three of these cities are located outside of Metro Detroit. Detroit, with a per capita income of $14,717, ranks 517th on the list of Michigan locations by per capita income. Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan, with a per capita income of $8,965.


Colleges and universities

Community Colleges and Technical Schools

Professional sports teams

Other notable sports teams

Michigan's Sports Victories

State symbols

Miscellaneous information

Michigan is simultaneously known for its cities, supported by heavy industry, and its pristine wilderness, home to more than 11,000 lakes. The clang and clamor of metro Detroit's crowded thoroughfares and busy factories stand in vivid counterpoint to the tranquility found in virtually every corner of the state.

An individual from Michigan is called a "Michiganian" or "Michigander".[3] A resident of Michigan's Upper Peninsula ("the U.P.") is often called a "Yooper" (or U.P.'er). In turn, residents of the lower peninsula may be jokingly referred to as "trolls" -- because they "live below the Mackinac Bridge." As the Lower Peninsula is famously shaped like a mitten, residents often use their left hand or right palm as a shorthand "map" to illustrate the part of the state from which they hail, or any other location to which they may be referring.

Its U.S. postal abbreviation is "MI" (traditional: "Mich."). The U.S. Navy's three ships called USS Michigan were named in honor of the state. Michigan is nicknamed the "Great Lakes State", and also the "Wolverine State", from a nickname earned during the Toledo War.

Michigan has over 130 lighthouses, the most of any U.S. state. The first lighthouses in Michigan were built between 1818 and 1822. They were built to project light at night and to serve as a landmark during the day to safely guide the passenger ships and freighters traveling the Great Lakes. See Lighthouses in the United States.

Michigan has the most registered boats (over 1 million) of any state in the Union.

Michigan is home to the Soo Locks, the world's busiest lock system, and the Mackinac and Ambassador Bridges, each formerly the world's longest suspension bridge.

Michigan's 2004 commemorative quarter featured the outline of the state and the surrounding lakes.

Quick trivia

  • State nicknames include the Wolverine State, Great Lakes State, Mitten State, and Winter Water Wonderland.
  • The state motto, Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice is Latin for "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you", a paraphrase of a statement made by British architect Sir Christopher Wren about his influence on London.
  • The state stone, the Petoskey stone (Hexagonaria pericarnata), is composed of fossilized coral from long ago when the middle of the continent was covered with a shallow sea.
  • The state gem chlorastrolite, literally the green star stone, also known as the Isle Royale greenstone is found on Isle Royale and the Keweenaw peninsula.
  • The state wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris), is a federal-listed threatened species.
  • The state soil, Kalkaska Sand, ranges in color from black to yellowish brown, covers nearly a million acres (4,000 km²) in 29 counties.
  • Michigan is the only state composed of two separate peninsulas.
  • The Lower Peninsula of Michigan is nicknamed "The Mitten" because it resembles the palm of a right-hand mitten. When asked where in Michigan they come from, residents of the Lower Peninsula often point to the coresponding part of their right hand.
  • The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is nicknamed "The U-P." Residents of the Upper Peninsula are called Yoopers (from U-P-ers.)

See also

External links

Government Tourism & Recreation Culture & History

Flag of Michigan State of Michigan
Capital Lansing
Regions Upper Peninsula: Copper Country | Keweenaw Peninsula
Lower Peninsula: Metro Detroit | Northern Michigan | The Thumb | Southern Michigan | Western Michigan
Counties Alcona | Alger | Allegan | Alpena | Antrim | Arenac | Baraga | Barry | Bay | Benzie | Berrien | Branch | Calhoun | Cass | Charlevoix | Cheboygan | Chippewa | Clare | Clinton | Crawford | Delta | Dickinson | Eaton | Emmet | Genesee | Gladwin | Gogebic | Grand Traverse | Gratiot | Hillsdale | Houghton | Huron | Ingham | Ionia | Iosco | Iron | Isabella | Jackson | Kalamazoo | Kalkaska | Kent | Keweenaw | Lake | Lapeer | Leelanau | Lenawee | Livingston | Luce | Mackinac | Macomb | Manistee | Marquette | Mason | Mecosta | Menominee | Midland | Missaukee | Monroe | Montcalm | Montmorency | Muskegon | Newaygo | Oakland | Oceana | Ogemaw | Ontonagon | Osceola | Oscoda | Otsego | Ottawa | Presque Isle | Roscommon | Saginaw | Sanilac | Schoolcraft | Schiawassee | St. Clair | St. Joseph | Tuscola | Van Buren | Washtenaw | Wayne | Wexford
Largest cities

Ann Arbor | Battle Creek | Bay City | Canton | Clinton | Dearborn | Detroit | Flint | Grand Rapids | Kalamazoo | Lansing | Livonia | Midland | Pontiac | Rochester Hills | Saginaw | Shelby | Southfield | Sterling Heights | Taylor | Troy | Warren | West Bloomfield | Westland

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Federal district District of Columbia
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